Fort High set to offer university prep courses

The Rainy River District School Board heard an update from Fort Frances High School principal Gord McCabe at its regular meeting here Tuesday night on the progress of preparations for the Advanced Placement (AP) courses to be offered there in the fall.
The AP courses will allow students the opportunity to explore subjects on a more in-depth level, and to earn advanced standing at university by achieving a Level 4 or 5 standing on the AP exam.
“We really think it’s going to bring a lot of benefits to our students,” McCabe told the board during his presentation.
The concept of AP courses was first introduced in the United States in 1955, McCabe explained, but only recently have gained popularity in Canada.
They currently are offered at 100 secondary schools in Ontario, and about 400 schools across Canada will offer them by this fall.
“AP courses prepare students for the rigours of university study,” McCabe said. “Students are expected to do considerably [more] outside reading and other assignments, and demonstrate the analytical skills and writing abilities expected of first-year university students.”
Fort High expects to offer two AP courses in the fall: English Literature and Chemistry.
The teachers involved are very enthusiastic about the program, McCabe noted. Two teachers will share the duties of the English Literature course, and are preparing lunch-hour seminars and a summer reading list for students who enroll.
There currently are 17 students signed up for the English class and 12 for the chemistry one.
“There is a scary part of this to a lot of kids,” McCabe admitted, noting a considerable amount of extra work is expected of the students.
But the benefits of the program will be immeasurable to them once they get to university, he remarked.
As well, administration hopes to arrange the schedules so students who decide not to complete the AP course can finish the credit in a regular class.
McCabe said with so many schools offering the program, it’s important Fort High students have the same advantage so they can compete with their fellow students when they reach university.
“AP courses cover the Ontario curriculum, but exceed the necessary content in depth and scope of study,” he explained.
Students who achieve a Level 4 or 5 standing on their final exam can earn advanced standing at many universities across Canada, including Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and the University of Manitoba—the two most popular universities among Fort High graduates.
“As this becomes more well-known and as the benefits are known, it will become part of the school culture,” McCabe said.
The high school hopes to expand the program to include calculus in future years.
Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the public school board passed two resolutions regarding transportation.
The Alberton South High and Bears Pass bus route tenders were awarded to Bob Dimit, the Devlin South High route to Ken Fisher, and the Reef Point route to Iron Range Bus Lines.
As well, the board approved the transfer of routes from Quetico Bus Lines to Iron Range, effective Sept. 1, following a request from the former.
But the board decided to delay voting on a motion to award the architectural services for the renovations at Donald Young School in Emo.
Laura Mills, the board’s chief financial officer, said the Ministry of Education is expected to release a list of 120 schools in the province that are too expensive to repair and require complete replacement.
These schools will be rebuilt at the cost of the ministry.
Since the renovations planned at DYS are expected to repair more than 65 percent of the building, it’s possible the school may appear on the ministry’s list, which could be released as early as next month.
Trustees agreed to wait until the list was released before awarding the architectural services on DYS.
Meanwhile, Education Director Warren Hoshizaki noted the board’s budget for the 2005/06 school year is the most pressing concern at the moment.
The provincial government announced a number of one-time grants last month, but has not yet released details of how they will be distributed.
Hoshizaki also noted most public boards’ elementary teachers, including the ones here, currently are in a work-to-rule mode.
“It hasn’t had a great deal of impact on students up to this point,” he noted, adding the board is looking forward to a resolution “so we can get back to business as usual.”
Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the board:
•recognized the efforts of staff at Sturgeon Creek School and Sturgeon Creek Alternative Program for their efforts in holding a Literacy Night in January; and
•launched the year-long R.E.A.C.H. program to acknowledge the commitment of the board’s various staff groups.
The board’s next meeting is slated for Tuesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. at Donald Young School in Emo.